When it comes to organic farm-to-table feasting, Kauai adds a unique sense of aloha to the concept of sustainability. In the truest sense of the word, “aloha” means to live and treat one another with love and respect, a philosophy shared by both residents and restaurants of Hawaii. Because the Garden Isle is small in size and population, the eateries on Kauai do their best to support local farms, feature in-season ingredients, and create business practices to honor the ‘aina (land).
From mom-and-pop shops to acclaimed chefs, these three Hawaiian food establishments not only please the palate, but also warm the heart for supporting such good causes.
Appropriately named for the island, Tiki Tacos actually refers to one of the two married owners: Tiki Morales. With an upsurge in Mexican restaurants on the island, Tiki Tacos is one of most popular. Bard Widmer, Tiki’s husband, is often behind the counter taking orders, making conversation, and getting to know the people entering and exiting their adorable eatery.
Tiki Tacos features a diverse selection as vibrant as its handwritten colorful chalkboard menu. As you peruse your options, one of your best bets is to combine surf and turf in items such as The Surfing Pig Taco, which integrates chunky roasted pork, freshly caught fish, organic greens, and most importantly, Hawaiian food that’s self-proclaimed “Mexican Food with a Hawaiian Heart.” Everything is made from scratch, including their yellow corn or organic, GMO-free blue corn tortillas.
As the name implies, there aren’t any burritos, fajitas, or enchiladas at Tiki Tacos—just tacos. They also exclude fillers such as rice, beans, or chips. For this reason, the tacos they create are worth every bite. Customers can expect hearty individual portions that either require a fork or, if you want to dive right in, make for wonderfully messy finger food. (The one exception to the taco rule? Tamales are available on Saturdays!)
Ninety-five percent of Tiki Tacos’ ingredients come from Hawaii, and the team always strives to source from Kauai first. They only serve 100 percent Kauai-grown beef and lamb; when those aren’t available, they’re not on the menu. Because both owners believe in supporting the local economy and understand the challenges of working within a fragile environment, they do their best to encourage small businesses just like theirs.
Kauai Juice Company
Kristal Muhich personifies the meaning of “grassroots” in her ownership of Kauai Juice Company; she started the company in 2010 by making Kauai Kombucha and funding the business through a Kickstarter campaign. Her belief in the health benefits of the fermented beverage, kombucha—along with a love for the island and her local community—have propelled her to offer local, healthy, and sustainable products without going off-island for the right ingredients and flavors.
Kauai features an abundance of fresh produce, leafy greens, root vegetables, herbs, and seasonal fruits—just some of the Hawaiian foods Muhich uses for an array of diverse kombucha flavors and fresh juices. In a few short years, Kauai Juice Company has flourished in its offerings of cold-pressed, glass-bottled, and locally sourced juices, and has since moved into two locations on the East Side and North Shore. There are daily specials at each of the Kapaa and Kilauea locations, and the Kapaa flagship store serves kombucha on tap and “daily shots” of healthy tonics and elixirs. This wide selection of antioxidant-rich offerings is perfect for any time of day, especially as the weather warms up or you need a brief refresher in between beach sessions.
Sometimes referred to as “KJC,” the company has also created a Cleanse Process for those seeking more health benefits. When visiting KJC, customers will find that every one of Kristal’s team members is as happy as the juices make their customers. It’s only natural that both tourists and locals come back for regular visits.
In 2014, BarAcuda won the Hale Aina Award from Honolulu Magazine for Top Write-In Vote, and in 1996, Food and Wine named its chef and owner Jim Moffat one of America’s 10 Best New Chefs that year. Even without the accolades, BarAcuda is one of the best restaurants on island for ambiance, wine, and seasonal tapas.
Located in the well-known town of Hanalei on the North Shore, Moffat and partner Sonja Postaer have created an intimate environment for connecting with friends and family, dining on delicious and innovative menu items, and sipping on an incredible selection of wine and cocktails. Even though the restaurant is located in a small town, the candlelit atmosphere and “Bali-modern vibe” is absolutely metropolitan.
With a passion for sustainability, Moffat fosters relationships with local farmers, fishermen, and ranchers alike. BarAcuda is one of the rare places where you can come in fresh off a sunset at the beach or dress to celebrate a special occasion. Cooks and waiters move through the open-air kitchen and dining room as you eat, producing an enthusiasm that promises whatever you order will be impeccable. The fresh-baked bread is hard to avoid gobbling up and requesting a second loaf; the house-cured meats and flavor combinations, such as honeycomb with Kauai Kunana Dairy goat cheese and green apple, will have you wanting to come back for another trip.